Moonie Times Finds the Real Victims of Police Profiling

The Moonie Times has discovered who the real victims of police profiling are. No, it isn’t racial minorities, of course, and anyone who thinks such a thing is clearly a communist and probably a Muslim terrorist too. No, the real victims are…gun owners.

A year ago this New Year’s Eve, John Filippidis of Florida was driving south with his family on Interstate 95 when the Maryland Transportation Authority Police pulled over his black Ford Expedition and proceeded to raid it while his twins, wife and daughter looked on — separated in the back seats of different police cruisers.

The officers were searching for Mr. Filippidis‘ Florida-licensed, palm-size Kel-Tec .38 semi-automatic handgun, which he left at home locked in his safe. (Maryland does not recognize handgun permits issued by other states.)

The incident gained national attention. Mr. Filippidis went on multiple radio programs and described in detail how scared and outraged he and his family were. He wondered: How did the police know he was licensed for concealed carry, and what right did they have to search through his personal items on the side of the busy interstate filled with holiday travelers on that 10-degree day?

“My wife’s hysterical, shaking and crying,” Mr. Filippidis recalled in an interview with The Washington Times. “I don’t have a criminal record. I own a business. I’m a family man, and I tried to explain that to [the officer]. But he had a bad attitude, didn’t want to hear my story. He just wanted to find that gun and take me away from my family. That was his goal, but he couldn’t do it, because I didn’t have a gun, like I told him.”

John Tonnesen IV of Lake Worth, Florida, was pulled over and arrested after a search of his work truck — by the same officer who stopped Mr. Filippidis — turned up his .45-caliber Ruger, licensed in the state of Florida. He doesn’t believe the stop was coincidental.

“It was unloaded and stuffed into a bag far from me,” Mr. Tonnesen told The Times. “There’s scanners in Maryland that scan every tag, and Florida is one of their target vehicles. They’ll find whatever reason they can to pull you over.”

Wow. A couple of anecdotal stories that may have entirely different explanations (or they could be illegal stops and searches, that certainly wouldn’t be a shock) and the Moonie Times thinks they have a big story. Study after study after study shows that the police pull over blacks and Latinos and search their cars at a rate that is nearly the exact inverse of their percentages of the population even though white drivers are actually more likely to be found to have illegal contraband in their cars? Why, that’s just anti-police, liberal propaganda!

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  • zmidponk

    As I understand it, the searches may be illegal, but the stops certainly aren’t. The article talks about these gun owners being ‘targeted for minor traffic stops’, which suggests that, in each case, there is a legitimate reason for pulling the person over, it’s simply a question of whether there was a good reason to actually carry out a search. However, apart from the first person, who was let on his way after the search found nothing, and was only given a speeding ticket, unless I’m missing something, the main thrust of the complaints seem to be that these people are expected to abide by Maryland state law when in Maryland, and may find themselves arrested if they don’t.

  • Mike Morris

    One true (or reasonably convincing tale) is enough to negate hundreds of facts.

  • rabbitscribe

    #1 zmidponk:

    The police are allowed to use any infraction, however minor, as a pretext to search your car.

  • Dexeron

    The big difference between the real victims of police profiling and these white gun owners is that these people are still alive.

    And of course had Tonnesen been killed by an “over-zealous” officer, do we think the usual defenders of the police would be consistent and side with the officer again because Tonnesen was technically breaking the law? I mean, we’ve been told that this is justification for being murdered by police for months now, right? What? You mean it’s different for white people?

    Seriously, I’m getting a little tired of the “all lives matter” brand of derailing.

  • colnago80

    Re rabbitscribe @ #3

    Excuse me, the article says that the officers only need probably cause to stop the vehicle. It says nothing about searching the vehicle. In the case cited, the cocaine was in plain sight inside the car, not in, for instance, the trunk.

  • garnetstar

    I-95, from Boston down to some southern states, is an infamous drug-transportation corridor, or at least it used to be. Police used to stop drivers (the ones they profiled as likely suspects) for small pretexts and ask if they could search their cars (or just do it, I suppose). White guys were stopped too, if they “looked like” traffickers.

    Since there was a history of that, and it may still be happening, wouldn’t anyone except RWNJs find that a more probable reason?

    As to how upsetting and disturbing these people found it, welcome to the world of minority people! Doesn’t feel so good when the shoe’s on the other foot, does it?

  • illdoittomorrow

    Mr. Filippidis went on multiple radio programs and described in detail how scared and outraged he and his family were.

    Of course they were outraged! That’s only supposed to happen to brown people!

  • dingojack

    SLC – Scalia’s summary of the court’s unanimous decision makes plain the thrust of the case:

    “Their [the defendant’s] argument here is that the drug evidence should not be admitted at trial because the vice-squad officer’s asserted grounds for approaching the vehicle, namely to give warnings of traffic violations, was merely a pretext for investigating unfounded suspicions of drug-dealing activity.

    The fourth amendment guarantees the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures.

    As interpreted by this Court that provision requires that before the police can seize a motorist, even if for a brief period and a limited purpose, they must have probable cause to believe that crime has been committed, or at least a reasonable suspicion of unlawful activity.

    The Petitioners do not dispute that the police had probable cause to believe they had violated the DC traffic code.

    Instead they advance a new argument that in the unique context of civil traffic regulation, probable cause is simply not enough.

    Automobile use they say is so heavily and minutely regulated that total compliance is nearly impossible.

    Almost all motorists frequently commit technical violation.

    The danger of approving all traffic stops based on probable cause they claimed is that it creates the temptation for the police to use traffic stops as a means of investigating other law violations as to which no probable cause exist and enables the place to single-out disfavored groups or unwelcome police attention.

    For this reason, petitioners argue, the Fourth Amendment test for traffic stop should be not simply whether probable cause existed to justify the stop but rather whether a police officer acting reasonably would have made the stop for the reason given.

    In earlier cases, we have effectively rejected the notion that the constitutionality of traffic stops depends upon the actual motivations of the individual officers involved.

    Petitioners insist however that the standard they have put forward is an objective one, whether the offices conduct in executing the traffic stop deviated materially to usual police practices, so the reasonable officer in the same circumstance would not have made the stop for the purpose of enforcing the Traffic Code.

    But although framed in empirical terms the standard seems to what plainly driven by subjective considerations, its whole purpose is to prevent the police from doing under the drives of enforcing the Traffic Code or they would like to do for different reasons.

    Petitioners approach of using the objective criterion of customary police practice as a means of sorting out improper motivation might make sense if our earlier cases rejecting subjective and candidly criterion or based only upon the evidentiary difficulty of proving it but they were not.

    They reflect primary the consideration of the Fourth Amendment’s concern with reasonableness allows certain action to be taken in certain circumstances whatever the subjective intent.

    Moreover, even if our concern had been only an evidentiary one, petitioner’s proposal would by no means dissuade it.

    Indeed, it seems to work somewhat easier to figure out the intent of an individual officer than to plum the collective consciousness of law enforcement in order to determine whether a reasonable officer would have been moved to act upon a given traffic violation.

    Ordinarily, the court would be reduced to speculating about the hypothetical reaction of a hypothetical constable and exercise that might be called virtual subjectivity.

    Finally, petitioners argue that the balancing inherent in any Fourth Amendment inquiry requires us to weigh the governmental and individual interests implicated in the traffic stops such as we have here.

    But while it is of course true that in principle every Fourth Amendment case since it turns upon a reasonableness determination involves a balancing of all relevant factors.

    As a general rule, the result of that balancing is not in doubt where the search or seizure is based upon probable cause.

    Where probable cause have existed, the only case in which we have found it necessary actually to perform the balancing analysis involved searches and seizures conducted in an extraordinary manner unusually harmful or intrusive, such as for example seizure by means of deadly force or unannounced entry into a home because the making of a routine traffic stop by a plainclothes officer does not even remotely qualify as such an extreme practice.

    It is governed by the usual rule that probable cause to believe the law has been broken outbalances private interest in avoiding police contact.

    We accordingly affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals sustaining petitioner’s convictions.”

    Not quite what you asserted in #5. Searches and seizures are OK if based on reasonable basis for probable cause, unless the search is an extraordinarily harmful or intrusive one (such as by unannounced entry into a home, by using deadly force),



    Sorry about the TL;DR

  • timgueguen

    The Moonies aren’t exactly an uninterested party when it comes to guns. One of the Moon family businesses is Kahr Arms, run by the late Reverend Moon’s son Justin. Kahr’s designs are primarily intended for concealed carry. Kahr also owns Auto Ordnance and Magnum Research, the US firm that produces the Desert Eagle pistol.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Dingo, please tell me that that word salad was retyped by someone who is not a native English speaker rather than pasted from theSCOTUS’ electronic original. Even Scalia has clerks who are competent enough with English to use adverb forms correctly.

  • dingojack

    D. C. Sessions: see here for the written argument. Or here for the oral announcement by Justice Scalia.


  • Dr X

    I don’t have a criminal record. I own a business. I’m a family man, and I tried to explain that to [the officer].

    And there you have it. He probably didn’t care about police misconduct when he thought it was reserved exclusively for people who aren’t businessmen and family men. How dare the police treat him like person without money or social standing.

  • Area Man

    “I don’t have a criminal record. I own a business. I’m a family man, and I tried to explain that to [the officer].

    But officer, I’m privileged! I’m the kind of guy you don’t search! It’s those people you’re supposed to be stopping and searching without cause!

  • Area Man

    Meh, looks like Dr. X beat me to it. Go to hell, Dr. X.